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Help with pastry basics--pate sablee

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hi all

I'm currently taking an intensive pastry course. I will be finishing in 5-6weeks and I have two exams before I finish and go to an internship.

I have a MAJOR problem. I cannot for the life of me make Pate Sablee properly. This is Pastry 101 and I can't do it! Every time I roll it out, it cracks and breaks and when I get it into the mould it can fall apart or crack. What can I do??

 

Here's how we do it:

 

Flour, icing sugar, salt, almond flour, butter, eggs.

 

Rub in method:

Dry ingredients on the bench/into mixer.

Rub in butter until like sand.

Add egg and work in using scraper. Don't overwork.

Knead together with base of palm a couple of times.

Put into fridge.

Remove, roll out till you can just see through the dough.

Put back into fridge/blast freezer if needed. Remove, wait a little and put into mould. Fold and press in.

Trim edges. Dock. Freeze. Pre-bake or fill.

 

I don't know if I'm not working it enough because I'm scared to over-work it. I don't know if I'm too slow. I don't know if I'm trying to roll it when it's too cold....!!! Help me?! My chef's are getting annoyed with me and I'm so frustrated as this is something so basic to the job.

 

:'(

 

Advice appreciated.

B

post #2 of 6
IMO the chef has no right to be annoyed.
It is his job to teach and a good teacher should be able to assess any learning deficits and then come at the material from different directions until the proverbial light bulb flashes on.

Has he stood by your side and observed your technique ?
Have you asked him to?

I realize that the above will likely not happen.
When I am having problems with pastry cracking it usually the temp or hydration.
Or both.

mimi
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply. One of the chefs helps, the other doesn't much. I also have a problem with tempering chocolate--I just don't get it. He stood by me while I thought I was failing at time after time to temper and decided that I "should know by now so he wasn't going to tell me if I was right or not". But I don't get tempering chocolate--something isn't clicking, so I had a melt down over the chocolate!

 

The nice chef showed me again how to put the pastry into the mould, then watched me do it and told me what I was doing wrong.

I think what my problem is that I'm really unsure about timings and about overworking the dough. So firstly, I think I'm not working it enough once I've added the eggs. Secondly, I'm unsure how long to leave it in/out of the fridge before I roll/put it into the mould...


Edited by BakingBee - 2/1/15 at 1:38pm
post #4 of 6
Are you practicing at home?
If not then start.
Maybe if you felt free to work without the pressure of the kitchen all around you may relax and start to enjoy what you are doing and things will click.

Use the same brand of ingredients as the school lab (if this is not possible just buy something with the same protein and butterfat %) and just go at it.

See what it looks and feels like with under and over hydration.
Same with your kneading (purposely go over a few times and see if you can tell when you hit the point of no return.
Then with the temp.

I get the frustration you are feeling after all your dough (breads as well) are the fundamentals on which you base most of your products.
Kinda like the sauces on the savory side of the kitchen.

mimi
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you Mimi. I've been practising all afternoon! I think I've made seven or more doughs LOL I can't get the same ingredients, but I'm trying to use the similar types. I got one tart looking just right until it came out of the oven--it was all even and smooth before it went in, but I think that could be cos of the oven at home... I tried more kneading and also tried the creaming method instead of the sable method. But if I'm working in the 'real world', I guess I'll have to use the mixer, so the creaming method's probably not the best to work on...

*Sigh* Will just have to keep practising, I think :(

post #6 of 6

Mimi has some great and sound advice for practicing as much as you can at home. I would like to add that just reading your thread is stressing me out for you....lol

 

A word of wisdom, pastry is one part chemistry and one part intuition. If you learn what each ingredient is used for then you start to understand the chemistry aspect and why you are using the particular ingredients in a recipe. 

Intuition however, is then learning how to let the mind go and feel with your hands what the ingredients are doing and when is the right consistency. You are so focused on doing it exact and perfect each time that you are failing to learn intuitively how to feel when the dough is ready. You are at school not to learn perfection but to learn how and what to do. So if an error is made they will not fail you for making that mistake......they will fail you if you cannot figure out the how and why you made that mistake and what you could do to fix it or improve it. 

 

Quote:
 

I have a MAJOR problem. I cannot for the life of me make Pate Sablee properly. This is Pastry 101 and I can't do it! Every time I roll it out, it cracks and breaks and when I get it into the mould it can fall apart or crack. What can I do??

 

Here's how we do it:

 

Flour, icing sugar, salt, almond flour, butter, eggs.

 

Rub in method:

Dry ingredients on the bench/into mixer.

Rub in butter until like sand.

Add egg and work in using scraper. Don't overwork.

Knead together with base of palm a couple of times.

Put into fridge.

Remove, roll out till you can just see through the dough.

Put back into fridge/blast freezer if needed. Remove, wait a little and put into mould. Fold and press in.

Trim edges. Dock. Freeze. Pre-bake or fill.

Okay....lets break it down. If you are rolling the dough out and it cracks and breaks there are two potential problems:

1) You are not incorporating the ingredients together enough and its still dry (fat in the butter has not melted enough when kneading the dough)

2) When you bring it out from the fridge to roll it you are rolling it too early. Wait until you can press your finger in the dough about 1/4" - 1/2" with no effort....that should be soft enough to roll. Take your time and don't press too hard at first because if the dough is still fairly cold you will crack the dough however, if you go a little slower not pressing too hard but enough to slowly shape the dough then as you roll the dough out it will become more pliable and soft due to the pressure of rolling.

 

In the pastry world you have to garner a NO FEAR mentality. Make a million mistakes and have good friends and family around when you do to eat your mistakes as they will never look a gift horse in the mouth....especially when its pastry we are talking about here...lol. The more mistakes you make the better a pastry chef you will become. So do your best and let go of the rest!! 

 

I wish you all the best!! You can do this :bounce:

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